Black Hawk pilots in Iraq and Afghanistan store their mission data on a device known as an Electronic Data Module (EDM). Functioning as a digital "kneeboard", it stores map data, waypoints, and can even send text messages. Unfortunately, it's the size of a brick and runs on Windows XP. Not to mention, as anyone who's ever used a DoD-designed user interface can tell you, its touch-screen display can be woefully counterintuitive. Pilots often spend so much time trying to navigate through menus that they jokingly refer to the EDM as the "heads-down display".
Certainly, an iPad could replicate most of the functions in a much more intuitive format, and process information far more efficiently. It would also be far lighter than the current EDM, and might not need to be tethered to a cable, either. In fact, aviators have long since preferred some of the functions of software such as Google Earth to the US military's Falcon View, especially during disaster relief missions, where information is shared government agencies and NGOs.
This spring, the Army continued its push towards crowdsourcing innovation with a competition to develop the best military-related application for mobile platforms, such as the iPhone and Droid. Soldiers attempted to outdo high-priced contractors with home-made solutions to high-tech problems. Among the entries was a mobile platform that interfaced with the US Army's Command Post of the Future (CPOF) software. Wired.com reports:
The overall winners ranged from a workout guide to an app for disaster relief efforts that allows the user to search, create and edit maps using Google Earth. But in terms of battlefield utility, the most important app may be “Sigacts” program for the iPhone. It lets a soldier tap into the Army’s futuristic command post software (called, I’m not kidding, “Command Post of the Future“) and learn about bombings and firefights in his area..
(Though, it should be noted, that with the standard CPOF computer coming equipped with three big screens and a DVD player, it's more appropriately nicknamed the "Command Post of the Right Now". You work out the acronym on that one.)
There are a lot of fantastic, innovative solutions that can come from outside the traditional defense contractor channels. Anyone care to crowdsource a good alternative to AKO?
Don't forget the coverage at Attackerman.